Stakeholders have brainstormed on the draft Rent and Ghana Housing Authority Bills at a meeting held in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, on Monday.
Some of the participants were of the view that government should not impose restrictions on landlords because it would discourage them from putting up houses, offices and other structures for renting.
The meeting was to solicit stakeholders’ inputs to fine tune the drafts to make them robust before submission to cabinet.
Organised by the Ministry of Works and Housing in conjunction with the law faculty of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), it brought together about 20 panelists to discuss the philosophy, policy and the constitutional context of the drafts, as well as other specific clauses.
Among the panelists were Prof. Divine Ahadzie, Head, Centre for Settlements Studies, Faculty of Built Environment, KNUST; Mr Jonathan Zinzi Ayityey, Senior Lecturer, Department of Land Economy, KNUST; Mr Hansen Kodua, Lecturer, Law Faculty, KNUST; Prof. Rexford Assasie Oppong, Department of Architecture, KNUST; Justice Fred Obikyere, Circuit Court Judge/additional Magistrate; Barima Kodie Oppong, Director of Legal Education and Director of Ghana School of Law; Mr Frank Aboagye Danyansah, Chief Executive Officer, Dannywise Estate and Construction, as well as Nana Agyakoma Dufie II, Queenmother of Asante Mampong.
Other participants included students, traditional leaders, academia and institutional representatives.
According to an aspect of the draft Rent Bill, a landlord could go to prison for not issuing a rent card to the tenant within seven days after the commencement of the tenancy.
Also, a landlord shall require permission from a Rent Office before an increase in rent, and a landlord has no power to eject a tenant unless per the court action.
Leading the call for the expunging of these clauses, Lawyer Kodua intimated that the landlords were providing services that should have been provided by government, which did not have enough resources to do so. Therefore, there was no need to impose such restrictions.
According to him, the government could only ensure that tenants were not arbitrarily exploited, but beyond that, it should allow the market to develop itself”.
However, Justice Obikyere, in his view, stressed the need to maintain some of the clause. He stated that landlords must not have the power to eject tenants, explaining that some of the landlords scheme to eject tenants in anticipation of higher payment of rents, and such a clause would sanitise the system.
Some of the panelists, including Prof. Oppong and Prof. Ahadzie, said the fact that the 1992 Constitution did not specifically mandate government to provide housing for the populace, Ghanaians should stand up to ensure that public housing had a constitutional mandate.
Earlier, the Minister for Works and Housing, Francis Asenso Boakye, indicated that the Rent Act was passed in 1963 and had outlived its relevance with the current population growth rate and called for the amendment of the Act.
The Vice Chancellor of KNUST, Prof. Rita Akosua Dickson, who chaired the function expressed optimism that the suggestions from the panelists would present a balanced consideration for the two bills.